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Winter's Flotsam

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After Marion Caldwell, even though Nathan can't feel, he feels like the cold has settled deep into his bones. His vision is blurred when he accepts his badge back from Dwight, and he doesn't know if the deficit is from exhaustion or tears. The town hates him and he has to persuade Audrey to kill him. At least it's an ending, he thinks. At least it's a way to make everything right. That's more than he's had in all those months on the road.

Duke pats his shoulder a few times and squeezes, applying pressure Nathan can only see, and asks him if he's all right. Nathan nods and says "yes", and Duke accepts that, somehow, and goes back to the Gull and the girl.

The badge feels heavy in Nathan's pocket. He is left alone surrounded by enemies. He's not all right, and Duke must be more tired than he's willing to let on, too, to buy a line of bullshit quite that obvious. The police station feels claustrophobic and dark, and Nathan feels the scratchy threat of something like a panic attack at the edges of his brain. He never meant to come back here. He was chased away from here. They're going to kill him. The only reason they're not killing him right now is because he's promised to embrace that fate later.

What is he supposed to do now? Work?

There doesn't seem to be a different answer he can wrap his head around.

He locks himself in his office -- his old office, not the Chief's office any longer. His belongings are in boxes, a heap of them stacked in one corner. Did Dwight keep it all purposely? That seems a contradiction. Dwight's the one who told him to run. But no-one else could have given the order.

Nathan gets tired of the boxes after the second box. He had a lot of irrelevant crap in his old office. The last six months have stripped him down to the essentials. There's nothing of interest from his old life. He's only marking time. He is a straight line of focus: Troubles, then Audrey, then death. He throws the things he'd taken out of the box back into it without arranging them anew, and shoves it back on top of the pile.

Instead, he switches on the computer and starts digging through the files to discover what's happened in the time he's been gone. His old ID and passwords have been reinstated. He knows they were deactivated, because he remote accessed the system a few times until his second week on the run, when it occurred to HPD to take his access away.

Dwight finds him a few hours later, buried in six months' history of desolation and death, and no small amount of self-flagellation.

"It's nearly eight o'clock." Dwight stands in the doorway, his arms folded. A tension in his stance makes it anything but casual. "I went home, and I came back again when I realised I didn't know where you were."

Nathan looks up, but the weight of what he's done is too heavy to allow any words to come. The things he's been reading swim in his head, and it takes a moment to remember that Dwight is there, and he's looking at him, at all.

With that much return of awareness, it occurs to Nathan that the door was locked, but Dwight must have the master keys for the whole building, now. Or else Dwight just... did what Dwight does. He isn't surprised, either way.

"I'll take you home," Dwight says, quietly firm. "Come on, I'll... Well, I'll take you somewhere you can stay." He steps forward into the room, just in time to catch Nathan's elbow when he stands and almost keels over. His legs have gone dead from sitting so long. They got frozen earlier, which may not have done them any favours. For that matter, he can't remember eating since that morning. He should also probably use the bathroom, because he can't remember when he last did that, and it might have been before they arrived in town.

Dwight is still waiting patiently for him when he comes out of the rest room. The hand returns to Nathan's elbow on the way out to Dwight's truck. It's about one part compassion to one part guiding a suspect, Nathan judges. He wonders if Dwight intends to be his jailer while he's in town. Set to watch him, to make sure he doesn't get cold feet and run again, now that he's their solution. Did the Guard set him to the task?

In the SUV, Dwight sits quiet without starting the engine. After a moment, he shares, his voice still low and level, "Your place burned up in the last few hits of the meteor storm. There's nothing left, Nathan. I saved your car, but that's all."

Nathan nods. He isn't surprised. He isn't upset. A part of him may even be glad. It's one meteor hit he doesn't have to feel guilty for. One meteor, at least, that found its rightful mark. "So long as you saved the car," he says, gruffly.

His past is gone. There's nothing for him but this, now.

"So where are we going?" he asks.

Dwight is looking at him weirdly. It seems Dwight might have expected more reaction, and the twist between his eyebrows subsides only slowly. "I've taken Garland's old place out of mothballs. It was still on the market, took a little damage in the storm, but nothing too bad. It should serve you temporarily. It's where you grew up, right?"

So the past is not completely dead, after all, though a more distant one than Nathan had been contemplating.

He nods and Dwight starts the car. The light is starting to grow dim, but there's still enough left for Nathan to register more of the damage to the town and the new scars on the landscape as they go. He shouldn't let the fact his own house was destroyed allow him to feel better, he decides. It hardly balances out all of this.

As they pull up outside his father's home, he can see where the house was hit, and where it has been repaired. Only Dwight would care to do it, that Nathan can imagine. It was probably more due to the memory of Garland than the fact that the house strictly belongs to Nathan, now.

A cascade of undergrowth has taken over the sides of the house, and the scattered large trees and bushes are in danger of swamping it all, long overdue a prune. Nathan hasn't looked at the place since Garland died. He hasn't had the time.

He gets out of the car and leans into the rear seat for his bag. "Thanks," he says, curtly, to Dwight, but then Dwight gets out, too.

"No, I'll come in. Make sure everything's all right."

Nathan's blue Ford Bronco is parked under a rough awning around the side of the house. He catches a glimpse and heads up there, walking out of his way to check on the old girl. He puts his baggage down and lays his hand on familiar blue paintwork. A sigh runs through him. Even if he can't feel, even if he can't have anything else, this is enough. It's got to be more than he deserves.

"She hasn't been run in over six months," Dwight calls. "You'll need to check her over, before you drive her."

Nathan would do that now, this minute, dropping everything else, but he supposes Dwight's presence and the fading light mean it should wait until morning.

There are weeds growing straggily in all the cracks and up through the gravel, as he picks up his baggage and heads back across dad's yard. It hasn't looked like this since the summer after mom died. He can't remember, now, what jolted Garland out of the slump and made him pay attention to things again, but there are a lot of gaps in his memory from around that time. Maybe it was the Troubles ending that did it. He remembers being in pain for weeks. Accumulated damage, the toll on his body of life without feeling, the sensation of walking on broken and re-broken toes. All of that, directly following a year of living life as a blank, was too much for a nine year old. Duke being a dick at school hadn't made it any more fun.

Maybe Garland pulled it together for him.

"Keys," says Dwight, and holds them out to him.

Nathan thinks their skin brushes as he takes the keys, but can't know for sure. There is something about Dwight, today, the way he's acting around Nathan. The need and eagerness in his eyes, now Nathan's returned, that Nathan does not ever remember being around when he was a fixture. In fact, Nathan remembers Dwight being pretty aloof; self-contained and willing to work with him, but only willing to take orders up to a point. Because, Nathan got the sense, Dwight considered himself the more competent of the two of them by far.

Nathan would never have dared challenge that, based on the all too real possibility that Dwight wasn't wrong.

Well, he's Chief now, and he says he needs Nathan, and the way he says it smacks of clutching at straws. Nathan wonders what Dwight's winter was like. How hard must it have been to keep the town together, to change Dwight's attitude to this? With no Audrey, no Nathan, no Crocker Legacy to fall back on to keep the Troubles at bay. Only the dubious loyalties, biases, and overreactions of the Guard.

Nathan unlocks the door. The porch hides shadows and spiders in its corners. The front door creaks inwards. The whole place has a feel of haunted houses in old movies, of ghosts and buried secrets. Nathan hasn't lived here since he was eighteen years old. He steps inside and reaches, automatically, for a light switch he can't feel or see, but that clicks smoothly on at his phantom's touch.

"I'll get a fire started," Dwight says, brushing past him. "There are logs in the basket. I can bring you more tomorrow. What was left under the awning looked pretty rotten."

"I don't need--" Nathan stops, receiving a hard look. But really, does it matter if he's cold, when he can't feel it? He's spent at least some of the last six months sleeping rough, when he had no other option. Some of the nights were cold enough that he felt an anxiety about whether he'd wake up in the morning regardless. "All right. I'll... get settled in. No, I'll check if there's any food here, first."

He might have to drive straight out again, if not. Or... just go hungry. He's also done that any number of times in the last six months. It's not like he feels pangs of hunger, either, just kind of hollow and aware he's running low on energy. Now, he doesn't even have to worry that the neglect will lead him to an early grave.

He puts his bag down on the couch and heads into the kitchen.

There's dried pasta and rice, both of which smell and look fine, and there are tins. There's half a jar of very dry coffee, and the lack of sugar and milk won't bother Nathan. There's no need to worry about shopping until the morning. "We're good," he calls through to Dwight. "You want to eat? The menu's not up to Duke's standards. Best I've got to offer is probably stewed beef and rice, but you're welcome to share it."

"I've eaten," Dwight calls back, so Nathan just opens a can and eats from it cold with a spoon, because it isn't like he can tell if the food is heated anyway. He finishes mechanically and wanders back into the living room as Dwight is just getting the first small flames of the fire to take.

Dwight gets up, with frowning lines on his forehead. He comes over and takes Nathan's hand. It's the weirdest thing, and for a dizzying moment, Nathan actually starts wondering what this is. Until Dwight grunts -- a disapproving sound -- and drags him over to place him in front of the fire. "Marion got you pretty good, didn't she?"

Nathan hadn't really thought about it, but he'd almost blacked out and his clothes had been crunching, and it... well, it had been very hard to move. "I suppose she must have." But he's been moving around for hours. Any fuss is surely a waste of time, now.

"We should have got you checked out by a doctor. Lucassi could have done it. I should have thought about it sooner."

"I'm fine," Nathan says. "I can't feel, but I do, in fact, know when something isn't right with my body. Mostly." He adds the proviso reluctantly. Sometimes, it takes time for damage to manifest in signs that he can register. He's not worried about what Marion did, though. Dwight hears the emphaticness in his voice and stops pestering him about it, but still builds the fire high. Nathan retreats a few paces to sit on the couch. His hands feel clumsy as he struggles to open his bag: tired, or else maybe they are still suffering the effects of the cold.

He takes things out and looks them over, and absorbs the fact that these are all he has in the world now, unless he left things at dad's that he's forgotten about. He should probably try to launder his clothes tonight.

...No, he decides, looking at the items he's been wearing while he was away. They're old, faded, battered, and not suitable for him now. Not respectable if he's supposed to function as a police detective. He needs to buy some clothes tomorrow.

Dwight comes over and perches beside him, hanging his ass off the edge of the couch, one leg bent up, one planted solidly on the floor, and watches Nathan's fingers moving clumsily through the last six months of his life.

"It wasn't easy out there, either, was it?" Dwight asks. It's possible that tone is forgiveness. Surely there isn't any possibility that Dwight thinks it could have been easy.

"I had no choice." Nathan left, but Dwight was the one who told him to go. Six month ago, his tune was, "The Guard are coming to kill you. You need to head out and lie low."

"I thought you would come back," Dwight says, and the flat words snap Nathan's head up swiftly from his unfocused drifting. "After the craziness died down. I thought you would want to come back. But you dropped out of sight and... There was no word. Nothing. For six months, Nathan! What the hell were you thinking? Jesus!"

For a bad moment, Nathan thinks that last expulsion might be unconnected, as he jerks his hand back to hide a packet of pills that he wouldn't have intended Dwight to see, if he'd remembered they were stuffed among the contents of the bag. He'll bin them, now. They don't matter. He tried sixty different things, and none of them made anything much better, and he didn't try a hell of a lot of them twice.

Nathan doesn't really care about the pills, but he doesn't want to have that conversation. He doesn't particularly feel together enough for this one. He stares at Dwight. "I couldn't come back. Haven wanted me dead. You're the one who told me to go." He had the impression, at the time, that Dwight was a thin slither away from wanting him dead, too, after his actions outside the Barn.

"No." Dwight shakes his head, dumbly, but can evidently see they're at an impasse. His mouth works. After a moment, he finds words. He breathes in, with a great heave, and takes Nathan's hands. His knuckles are white enough to indicate he's all but crushing them in his grip. "I was angry. I didn't mean 'go'."

"They were trying to kill me," Nathan says, sharply. "They tried enough times in those first few weeks. I was there. It wasn't my imagination. Damn it, Dwight, you know I had to stay on the run! The first thing that happened when I came back was that you all met me with guns and threats. Without Duke and Dave--"

Dwight, too, he thinks, the back of his mind kicking him to be fair. Dwight taking his vest off, so the bullets Nathan unquestionably deserved would only kill him.

Nathan may not be able to feel his hands in Dwight's grip, but he still wants them back. When he makes another effort to drag them away, Dwight lifts them higher and lowers his face into them. A shiver runs through Nathan at the sight. The resistance drains out of him. Those hints he had earlier... maybe they weren't so imagined, after all.

"You didn't want me to run." Apparently Nathan has to be the one with the words, now. "You wanted to figure it out later." And it's true that, after the first few weeks, the assassination attempts had stopped, or grown less frequent. The last was maybe three months ago. Someone had been trying to talk some reason into the Guard. Maybe Nathan got too used to running.

But he'd been alone, panicked, scared for his life, scared by any thought of Haven, of his past responsibilities and failures. He'd focused on finding ways to bury it. Running, once he'd started, was almost impossible to stop. It had taken a dead man turning up again to snap him out of it. Once he saw Duke, once he realised he hadn't killed his best friend -- and maybe that meant he hadn't also killed Audrey -- then he'd begun to think, if those guilts could be alleviated, he could work on the rest, too... Only then had focus and resolve and anything of himself started to come back to him.

Really, the last straw, six months back, was Dwight coming to him without sympathy, without friendship, with only a blunt order. "...After what you've done, the Guard are coming to kill you..."

Meteors fell on Haven that day, and no-one was in much of a state for niceties, for calm discussion, for rationally stating desires and facts. "Maybe I couldn't come back because I was afraid," Nathan admits, "But I didn't have any reason to think the town wanted me helping anymore, either." He'd thought the town wanted him dead -- and on that, frankly, he'd yet to see much evidence to the contrary. "I didn't think you did." He can't peel his eyes from the sight of Dwight's lips, pressed into his hands. It's as depressing as it is beautiful. Dwight hasn't moved in about a minute, and the silence is starting to stretch.

"I wanted you," Dwight confirms, and Nathan feels... butterflies, fluttering in his stomach. Psychosomatic, but one of the few things he can still feel at all. Because he's sure, now, that the declaration Dwight makes isn't only about the ways Nathan can help him at work. It's followed up by confirmation as Dwight growls, deep in his stomach, and the growl turns into a new declaration of, "I still do." He reaches for Nathan's shoulders, letting Nathan's hands slip free to wrap around the back of his neck. Then Dwight stops. "I'm sorry." He starts backing off.

Nathan applies all the strength he has, even if it doesn't come close to Dwight's physical power, to hold him in place. "Dwight."

So they know, as their eyes meet, that this isn't a one-sided impulse.

Dwight's eyes are warm as Nathan searches them, and a familiar heat kicks in at the back of his brain even if it can't touch his numb body. It's something that doesn't belong in this place, with these people. There were things he determined to bury forever when he climbed into that car with Duke and Jennifer to come home. But maybe they've already become too much a part of him to cast aside so easily. It was six months, but it felt like a whole other lifetime. He slides his palms down over Dwight's shoulders, dipping under his collar. He adjusts his stance, moving forward, so that Dwight can't possibly mistake him.

Dwight still holds back. Not nervously, but dutifully, the wariness in his eyes bluntly conscientious. "You can't feel. Isn't that--?"

"It's okay to want me," Nathan says, speaking over the question he doesn't want to hear, however nice and responsible Dwight might be being in the asking of it. He doesn't need caution and he absolutely doesn't need pity. "I can want, too, even if I can't feel it." He does want this. He almost can feel the heat washing over him as he ditches any trace of caution and practically climbs Dwight, on the couch, shoving his bag and his things aside, or ignoring them where he can't move them clear in time for his impatience. He tries to match his lips to Dwight's, hoping he succeeds. Things get difficult, this close-up. But the inside of a mouth tastes different from skin, and different from lips, and he can navigate like this, even if it's hazy.

"God, Nathan..."

He pulls back slightly, sliding his hands through Dwight's hair, over his beard, across his face, listening to the different sounds the friction of his skin's passage makes, letting that serve in place of sensation. The sound of Dwight's textures make him shiver. Because Dwight still looks reticent, still like if he does this he'll be taking something he shouldn't, something unfair and unequal, Nathan reasserts, "It's okay. This is how I am."

"But Audrey," Dwight says, his eyes sharp and sad. "What about everything--"

Audrey was before the winter. She's the one person he'd be able to feel any of this with, but Nathan has never even slept with Audrey. She's a glowing, fading dream buried in his old life. If he sees her again it will be the end of him. He won't ever feel her body against his. He stops the rest of Dwight's words with his lips. Maybe he needs to remember that there's good reason anyone from Haven would be startled by behaviour like this from Nathan Wuornos. It's a dislocating thought, how different things were when Dwight knew him before.

He's forced to break the kiss because he needs his eyes to open Dwight's belt and manipulate unfeeling fingers over button and zip. He slips his hand down and exact science stops there, because he can only see the bulge of his hand next to the gathering bulge of Dwight, but he rocks slowly, pressing his hand forward. Dwight pushes his face into the curve of Nathan's neck and gathers him in with an arm around his waist. There's a knee applying what Nathan assumes is gentle pressure between his open legs, but in all honesty he's not getting much from that. Most of the buttons being pushed for him here are in the knowing and the scents; Dwight's musky, fast arousal mixed with his sharper sweat. The blissful and zoned-out look on Dwight's face that Nathan can half-see if he slides his eyes down. They rock there slowly for a while, and Nathan breathes it in.

This is different, he realises. Better. Sweeter, indefinably, with someone he knows and knows he likes, and not just a face and a body that fit the moment and the need, which was admittedly sometimes only the need for a handout or a room for the night. He wonders if Dwight will reject him for being too practised at this. It's a startling worry, jarring intersection of his old, respectable, life and what he's become, which is a creature of the moment, of necessity, of any number of different methods to escape.

It's not a thought he's had to entertain before.

Nathan says, anyway, "I do this better if we're naked, and I can see."

Dwight's nod is dazed.

Nathan climbs off him, swinging on the arm curled over the back of Dwight's shoulder to get himself upright. He strips without really thinking about it, only thinking about being naked quicker. When he looks up Dwight is staring, jaw slack, face stricken, and still fully dressed. He reaches for Nathan's hip, where he places his hand over a large, purpling bruise. The shape of his hand is a good fit. Nathan can remember who must have given him the bruise, and when, though he hadn't realised until now that it had bruised like that.

"It's okay," he tells Dwight. "It was an accident. It's hard to tell if something's causing damage, when I can't feel. I can't tell you if anything hurts, either, so you'll have to be careful." Truth be told, that last guy, a week ago, was something of an asshole. They can't all be princes, especially not the places he's been hanging out. Generally, though, they've been alright.

"You've done this before." Dwight gently smoothes his hand over the bruise. "A lot."

"I was trying to escape." There hasn't been that much sex, but... when he thinks about it, scattered over six months, even though sometimes a week or two went by without any bed partner at all... Adding it up now, the number might be a bit alarming. He's not going to tell Dwight, or anyone else, the number.

"Are you still trying to escape?" Dwight's hand slides away from the bruise down Nathan's thigh. His hands and eyes are mesmerized despite the stoic resolve in his voice.

"No," Nathan tells him flatly. "I'll be staying in this town, remember, in the morning." Thinking that if he's going to scare Dwight away, he might as well do it now and get it over with, he adds, "I've got condoms, and we should definitely use them." He puts the appropriate emphasis on that, because he hasn't always been careful; too drunk, too high, too stupid, too embedded in destructive behaviour, and if they're going to do this again, if they're going to do this a lot, if his stay in town is going to be extended for any length of time -- if his life is -- he's going to have to get some tests done. "Are we still okay?"

If Dwight says no, he thinks, he'll start the ball rolling on the tests tomorrow, and see if he can pick this up again if/when he's clean. Nathan has not realised, until now, how very much he wants this. Dwight was always the mystery man, a daunting figure with his physical size, slightly aloof kindness and quiet competence. He took a bullet for Nathan after they'd only known each other a few weeks, but he's never felt like he knows him. Dwight has always maintained a distance that is as much his armour as the bullet proof vest he wears. Now that the armour seems battered and worn after the trials of the winter, perhaps Nathan can finally find out what's underneath.

"Okay," Dwight says, with a provisional undercurrent, that speaks of a part of him still thinking he shouldn't. But the want in his eyes is fierce. One thing Nathan has gained in the last six months is the awareness that it is, in fact, possible for people to want him.

It's also possible the suggestion he might reject Nathan for such a reason pushed Dwight's gallantry the other way.

Nathan moves down to work Dwight's jeans off over his hips while Dwight strips his upper body, exposing tattoos. Dwight is big all over, and Nathan licks his lips reflexively and tries to hurry getting the boots and jeans off his feet, only to reaffirm that trying to hurry with numb fingers only ever makes anything a botch job. Dwight, bare-chested, leans over and watches him, and the need in his eyes only makes Nathan fumble more. Makes him feel like he hasn't done this before, or only a few times.

Which might be for the best, in the circumstances.

When he's slung the last, persistent boot and sock to the side, he rises up between Dwight's knees, pausing there to breathe in the scent of Dwight, inhaling slowly. He can't make this a tactile experience. He has to take what he can. Dwight raises his eyebrows and Nathan asks, "Too weird?" His heart beats loudly, nervously, like it hasn't in months.

"No." Dwight shakes his head. "I'm alright with weird." He curls his hands under Nathan's ass and then casually hefts all of Nathan's weight like it's nothing. Nathan's not ready for the rush as his balance sense tips, and it thrills him. He's carried over onto his back, laid along the length of the couch. Dwight's teeth nip at his face, catching his lower lip between them. Or Nathan thinks they do. Front to front, Nathan tries to imagine the feel of someone this heavy over him. He pushes his hips to grind upwards, into the void. This isn't what he prefers, but he'll do whatever Dwight wants, tonight. He'll still be in town tomorrow and hopefully Dwight will still want him tomorrow. He can trot out the rest of the Nathan Wuornos Guide Book in pieces, this time, rather than having to cram it all into one night.

"Do you want me to fuck you?" Dwight asks, between kisses, or bites, between the rasp of his lips and beard against Nathan's skin and stubble. "Is that what you want?" There are breathy nerves in there, less confidence than Nathan expected, although some of the lightness is teasing.

"I don't really need penetration," Nathan admits. "It's all up here..." He points at his head. "But you can, if you want. Or I can, if you want. I don't mind. I just want this, now." He squirms a leg loose, curling it around Dwight. The other leg is caught up, or there's too much weight on it to move.

"I'd like to," Dwight responds, his voice a very low rumble against Nathan's neck. "You're okay with that?"

The thought of Dwight inside him... "Definitely." He can work with that.

Nathan twists and scrabbles among the contents of the bag he's still lying on for lube and condoms. He does not think he can cope with raiding his dead dad's house for anything he can use as a lubricant, let alone actually finding it. The lube is down the side of a cushion. The condoms are under his back.

Dwight's hand claims the lube and disappears, goes to work unfelt and invisible between Nathan's legs, while he leans forward and presses more kisses on Nathan's chest and neck, moving down his chest as, presumably, his fingers probe harder, deeper. "You're thin," Dwight grunts in criticism, tracing prominent ribs with his lips, scowling at finding another bruise, though that one's from the getting-beat-up-for-money side of Nathan's winter activities. Unless Duke mentioned that, Dwight doesn't know about it, and Nathan finds himself embarrassed by the idea of telling Dwight, now... cautious, moreover, because Duke didn't like it, and Dwight definitely won't. There are a few more of those bruises across his stomach and chest; the stubble mostly hides the ones on his face; and usually he doesn't bruise particularly deeply, colourfully, or easily. They're faint and undramatic. The light in here's not bright. He thinks he'll get away without having to come clean.

"I skipped a few meals," Nathan says.

Dwight gives a whuff of laughter, then asserts, "It's not really funny."

"No, it's not. I'm not going to talk about it, Dwight." He shifts his hips, carefully. "Am I ready, yet?"

"Maybe," Dwight hazards. He glances a bit dubiously down at his own cock.

"Do more, to be safe." Caution is the right choice, because it wipes clear a good deal of the doubts about doing this at all that are still veiled in Dwight's face. Nathan pulls Dwight's head closer and focuses on giving him a love bite while his fingers finish their task. His imagines everyone seeing the mark, tomorrow, at the police station. Jordan seeing it. Vince. Wonders if any of them will guess even for a moment where it came from. The thought makes him feel ridiculous and schoolyard but it's undeniably compelling. It also makes him laugh.

Dwight says. "You do know that hurts, right?"

"It what?" Nathan scoffs back, drunk enough on the promise of sex to be glib about his deficiency.

"Okay, you're ready." Dwight rises up, challenging, and Nathan responds by curling his shoulders and leaning in to put a condom on Dwight. It's a tight fit, with the sizes he has. "Will that do?" Nathan asks worriedly.

"I'll manage," Dwight grunts. "For this, I can manage." His hands go to Nathan's legs.

"Sit up," Nathan instructs, as Dwight starts to lean over him again. "As much as possible. In fact, stand up and I'll hang off the end of the couch, if that's...?" One of Dwight's eyebrows is rising, and it is very, very cute. "I need to see."

Dwight nods understanding, and he stands up. The creaking of the two of them moving around on the old couch does suggest that if they do this too enthusiastically they're going to end up breaking furniture, and Nathan can't imagine them doing this any other way, right now. He scrambles to lift his lower body over the plush but threadbare arm, shoving cushions underneath his lower back. Dwight catches his legs again, holding them steady, standing looming over him. He looks up at Dwight.

The world is falling apart and he's hurt far too many, and he'll die soon, probably, but Nathan still manages a grin, looking up at Dwight. There's nothing of dignity in the position he's chosen, but that stopped being a consideration a while back.

Dwight blinks at the reaction, obviously not what he expects from Nathan, and then his hands slide down Nathan's legs to part the cheeks of his ass, and Nathan thinks his fingers delve inside again, briefly, reopening and testing.

Nathan curls his legs around Dwight, loosely at first, until Dwight's fingers move out of the way for the bulk of his body to take their place, moving closer, hips pushing with a short thrust. Nathan guesses he's a little way inside, but his size makes it a slower process than usual, and Dwight waits, eases in, then waits. His hands smooth over Nathan's thighs. He can't feel that, but it's visually comforting and the whispered whoosh of Dwight's skin moving across his is also comforting. When he pushes the final stretch, pressing in flush to Nathan's ass and thighs, he adjusts his hands to Nathan's hips, avoiding the bruise.

"Go," Nathan urges. "You won't break me." Although perhaps he already did that last autumn, when he was the only thing Nathan had left and sent him away. Dwight looks a little bit sad, like maybe he realises the irony, but there's no sense in either of them dwelling on that now.

When Dwight thrusts, it's powerful, like Nathan knew it would be, and nearly lifts him off the couch. He braces himself better, and Dwight readjusts his grip to the back of Nathan's hips to help hold him in place, and Nathan flexes muscles that are dim responders to try and match Dwight's movements in the next thrust. It's difficult to get it right, with the imbalance in raw physical power, but it's not too long before they find a rhythm that works.

Nathan feels sex like a fuzzy softness at the back of his brain, once the chemicals really start to flow. It's better than any of the drugs. Raises him but doesn't leave any slump afterwards, keeps him in control of his own actions and mind. He's been close enough to despair, and doesn't need the added danger of downers or the come-down. Dwight's stamina is exquisite and it feels like they sustain the intoxicating back and forth of their movements together for a long time. Nathan catches Dwight's eyes early on and keeps that contact as they move.

So he's aware of the gathering frustration in those eyes even before Dwight tries to move over him again, sliding hands down beneath his back before making himself stop. "This isn't... intimate." He says it like he struggles to articulate what he means. His tone is almost pleading. "I'd rather be closer. But if you can't--"

"No, it's all right," Nathan says, sitting up, resting his hands on Dwight's shoulders for leverage. He's had his way, and honestly, he's curious what Dwight will choose to do. Maybe the things that worked for him on the road won't work the best now.

Dwight's arms heave him up, gripping under his butt and thigh, and around his back. Nathan finds himself laughing with disbelief. Apparently Dwight didn't miss Nathan's reaction to being picked up before. He's also the first partner he ever had who's strong enough to simply lift him and fuck him against a wall. He may be thin, but he's long and heavy, and definitely not used to anyone just being able to manhandle him.

Nathan's breaths get lower, as Dwight fucks him upright. His body knows it's off balance and that's as close as he gets to engaging any tactile senses. He hasn't been this aroused very often, with his Trouble in force. If he leans forward and really tries, he can snag Dwight's lips, and run his tongue around them. Dwight pushes deeper to kiss him. Nathan doesn’t think he intended that to send him over the edge, but from the sharp changes in Dwight's body rhythm and noises, it does. Dwight starts shaking and his movements slow to almost nothing. He holds Nathan closer, tighter.

After a long moment, he pulls his lips back, still keeping his hold on Nathan, who tries to put his legs down and finds them uncooperative. Dwight helps him to the couch, where he can lean upright against the back until he gets his legs under control.

"Maybe I got carried away," Dwight offers with concern.

"It's just the position." Nathan gulps the words between catching his breath. Most people, who can feel their legs growing numb or cramped, make adjustments to let them retain more function. Nathan can't do that automatically, and he can't do it deliberately if he's so focused on other things that he forgets. Dwight stands next to him, and Nathan turns after a moment to lean into his chest. He notices that Dwight's chest is shiny and wet, and looks down at himself to see he came at some point in that last part, too. Satisfaction coils down to his toes. He doesn't have the right to be happy, but right now he is anyway.

His sense of responsibility makes him lean down over the couch to grab a stray garment from his bag to use to clean his fluids off Dwight.

"Shit." Dwight's gaze has become fixed and grim. It takes a moment to work out what he’s seen to prompt the expletive, even though almost everyone comments on the trio of bullet wounds trailing down Nathan's body: shoulder, mid-back and thigh -- well: it's pretty much in his ass. Someone should tell Jordan that, because he's sure it would tickle her sense of humour. "This is what happened that day?"

Dwight's eyes continue looking down over Nathan's shoulder after he turns back, and he thinks Dwight might be touching the scars, but Nathan stays as he is, tracing a tattoo with his eyes, balling the old shirt up between his hands.

"I didn't know you were hurt this badly, when I told you to run."

"It didn't hurt," Nathan says.

Dwight peels away from embrace to round him, and ducks his head down behind Nathan.

"Are you going to kiss the one in my ass, too?" Nathan comments. "Because that's pretty pointless." That's too sharp, and he knows it the instant the words leave his lips, but the reminder... He turns and pulls Dwight's head up to him, holding his chin. The beard makes a noise again as his hands roam over it. He reminds himself he has no right to be pissed off, considering that he also doomed Dwight to his Trouble when he doomed the rest of Haven. Dwight was still trying to save his life when he told him to go.

Nathan sighs and leans against the couch, flexing his knees experimentally. Dwight's shadow turns away with a last touch on Nathan's shoulder, and Nathan hears him pull off the condom. He pads into the downstairs bathroom off the back of the kitchen to dispose of it and the sounds of running water and a flush filter through as he cleans off.

The fire's burning low, so Nathan goes over and feeds it. He walks carefully, but his legs seem ready to hold him up again. He crouches, rearranging the fire with the poker, feeding new wood into the flames. He hears Dwight come back. When he turns around, Dwight is sitting on the couch behind him, knees wide, eyes sombre but calm, watching Nathan. There's a beer raised to his lips and a second bottle in his other hand, swinging next to his knee. Nathan takes a moment to appreciate the view. They size each other up again.

Dwight holds out the spare beer. "I found a few at the back of the pantry."

Nathan takes it and gulps a mouthful, barely tasting it. He grabs his bag and starts returning the contents, clearing a space to sit. A few things are slightly squashed. He shoves the messily stuffed bag on the floor and sprawls next to Dwight. It's going to take some getting used to, not carrying his whole world around in that bag.

"It's been a ... really long time, for me. With anyone," Dwight says slowly. Nathan knows, in an information-mostly-repeated-from-other-people fashion, that Dwight lost his life and his family by stages when he first found out about his Trouble -- career, wife, home, daughter. He wonders at what stage Dwight has previously slept with a man, but he isn't going to ask. Nathan just nods and clinks his beer to Dwight's. "Going to take some getting used to Nathan Wuornos, the 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' version."

"No rock 'n' roll," Nathan says, and grimaces. "Let's keep this version between you and me." He needs to be able to do his job, but don't ruin my reputation isn't really what he means. He gathers himself a moment before he adds, "Don't tell Duke." Duke has always been the bad boy, between them. He murmurs, "Wouldn't want to tip his sense of the... natural order of things."

Dwight looks at him quietly for a long moment, then holds up a small, clear plastic bag with a clip top. He must have found it down the side of the cushions. His eyebrows do... something. Nathan isn't entirely sure what because he's not a hundred percent certain Dwight's face has actually moved at all, but he's definitely being judged.

Nathan sighs, and curls his hand on Dwight’s wrist, pulling arm and pills down. "Flush them down the toilet. I don't care."

"I could charge you," Dwight says, apparently seriously.

"I don't need an intervention," Nathan growls. He doesn't want to explain everything he's done to... to stay interested in living. He'd rather avoid the subject of what sex ended up meaning to him, because Dwight is steady and reserved, responsible and dependable and... all the things he used to think he was, and definitely now isn't. He slides his hand down to Dwight's thigh.

Dwight closes his hand on top as if to brush him away, but then leaves it there, and his face shifts with conflict. "I don't..." He sighs and sags, leans his head against the back of the couch, staring up at the ceiling. "I don't even know what to think of any of this." He gives off an aura of resigned exasperation.

Dwight is cursed with bad luck as well as bullets. First a woman no-one can touch, and now the man who has to die to save Haven.

Nathan winces, because that is a bit close to the bone, and after last year with Audrey, he didn't mean to do that to somebody else. He feels reality start to sink back in. He doesn't know what got into him that made him think this was possible. Just habit, kicking his ass after six months of another life. "I'm sorry. Maybe we should wrap this up. Back to saving Haven tomorrow?" He tries to move and discovers his hand is locked in place.

He doesn't want to be Dwight's responsibility. He won't be his downfall. There's a reason Nathan's partners have been many and often. He comes with too many sins to put that weight on somebody else. He puts more force into his efforts to pull away. "Damn it, think about this. We can't--"

Dwight pulls him close again in abrupt decision, and the packet of pills crunches with finality as he closes his fist hard around it. "You will get checked out tomorrow. I should have taken you to the hospital today, but it's too late now. Tomorrow, we'll find out what damage was done in your six month break with sanity. After that, we're checking everything we know about the Barn, and the Troubles, and Audrey -- then we double check, triple check, and check again. I'm not repeating last year's mistakes -- Haven comes first. But at the very least I am not losing you only to find out our information was wrong."

Dwight says all of it in a manner that indicates Dwight will be there no matter what the outcomes are along the way.

Nathan lets himself lean in close and relax. He had no intention of making himself Dwight's responsibility, adding to all the rest... Wasn't it Dwight, a few hours ago, begging him to help? ...But all the same, he is very tired.

"Let's go to bed," he murmurs. Then he frowns and jolts up. "Tell me there's a spare bed in this place. Because I'm not too sure I can handle sleeping in dad's."

Dwight ducks his head aside and distinctly mutters, "I can't even imagine what the old Chief would say to this."

Nathan looks down. He doesn't believe his father's major problems with this situation would have had anything to do with Dwight. After a moment, he finds the will somewhere to push the rest aside and lift his head again, curling his hand around Dwight's chin to pull his attention back, too. There are enough things he's done that he should be ashamed of. This is hardly one of them. Dwight shouldn't have to feel that way, either. He says, "I can't imagine he'd disapprove of you, once he'd thought about it."

Dwight looks dazed by that affirmation, but stands up, knocking back the rest of his beer and discarding the empty bottle. He takes Nathan's hand to draw him up. Standing in each other's space, they kiss again, skin gold and flickering with firelight, and Nathan's senses are alive with stimulation even if his skin is not. He isn't used to feeling a foot shorter than his partner for this part, but he's absorbed more radical adjustments.

"I think there's a bed made up in the spare room that might be big enough," Dwight says. "If not, we'll bring the mattress down here."